loren Eric Swanson: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Plagerism Code Was Plagerized

Just read an interesting aricle in The Dallas Morning News. Students at University of Texas at San Antonio wanted to draft an honor code that discouraged cheating and plagerizing but, as the article says, "Unfortunately it appears they copied another school's code without permission." I'm probably at risk of plagerizing this article but I think there is a lesson regarding blindspots that all of us have. Remember the Johari Window? There are areas of our lives that others see clearly that we are blind to...and we all have them. (C0urtesy of

Beyond the Church Doors

For a couple of days I am at Dallas Theological Seminary for their missional church conference. Today's presenters have been Ed Stetzer and Alan Roxburgh--two missional leaders from whom I have learned a lot. Check out the blogs at www.edstetzer.com and www.allelon.org

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Externally Focused Church Class

In conjunction with the Externally Focused Conference I will also be teaching an Externally Focused Church class through Bakke Graduate University (http://www.bgu.edu/). If you are working towards a MDiv or DMin or just want to take this class as part of your personal growth and enrichment....well, it's going to be a good one.

The class begins with a barbecue at our house on Sunday evening (May 4) followed by a pre-conference intensive with Jack Jezreel on May 5 before the EF Conference begins. After the conference we'll drive up to Estes Park and stay 3 nights at Lost Antler Ranch. The class will end on Friday morning, May 9th. Participation will be limited to 25 people. Lodging and meals / snacks for Tuesday-Friday are a paltry $175 / person. To see the syllabus and register, go to http://www.bgu.edu/scripts/courseView.asp?courseId=139

Externally Focused Conference May 5,6, 2008

I am very pleased to personally invite you to the Externally Focused Conference (http://www.externallyfocusedconference.com/) at LifeBridge Christian Church on May 5th and 6th in Longmont, Colorado. This is the conference you want to bring a bunch of folks from your church to help them catch a vision of what God is doing and can do through externally focused churches. Last year's conference was very good and this year's event seems to be just as good. If you were to do one thing to advance the externally focused ball in your church, this would be the event to come to.

In addition to being with others of like mind and like heart, we will be hearing from and interacting with folks who are on the leading edge of externally focused ministry, many of whom Rick Rusaw and I wrote about in The Externally Focused Church. These are the leaders who have shaped my thinking regarding what church could be. These are the leaders whose stories I have been telling wherever I go. Here are our four keynote speakers who also will be giving breakout seminars:

Rick McKinley from Imago Dei in Portland. Rick McKinley is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, a missional community loving and blessing the city. Rick was part of our second Externally Focused Leadership Community, is doing an incredible job of loving his city. He is the author of “Jesus in the Margins” and “This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God”. He will bring a fresh perspective on the kingdom.
Alvin Bibbs from Willow Creek. Alvin has done a great job in mobilizing thousands of suburban believers from Willow into the pain and need of Chicago. He is a real gem in the kingdom of God.
Robert Lewis—founding pastor and pastor at large at Fellowship Bible, Little Rock. Part of my externally focused journey was taking 35 pastors / Christian leaders from Boulder to Robert’s Church of Irresistible Influence Conference several years ago. Many of us can trace our passion to Robert.
Rick Rusaw from our host church—LifeBridge Christian Church. Rick and I co-authored The Externally Focused Church and Living a Life on Loan. Enough said!

Plus FIVE 3-hour pre-conference intensives (extra $49) with:
Jack Jezreel—founder of JustFaith.org. If you were part of the EFCLC you heard from Jack during our last gathering. The best stuff on mercy and justice ever!
Doug Pollock—Doug’s stuff on Irresistible Evangelism is the best stuff I’ve seen that fits hand in glove with externally focused ministry
Don Simmons—the master when it comes to volunteers. No one I know is better
Amy Sherman—Amy is a Senior Fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, where she directs the Center on Faith in Communities. She is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world on churches that are making a difference in the community.
Yours truly—doing my 3 stock seminars on “Becoming an Externally Focused Church.” Of course I recommend the above folks but for those who need a “101” course in externally focused, these are very helpful and good sessions.

In addition, we will have 24 breakouts in three different breakout sessions—check out the website (http://www.externallyfocusedconference.com/) for details. All sessions will be recorded so you don’t have to miss a thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Dinner

We celebrated the Ressurection Day with Church, followed by an Easter egg hunt and lunch with my grandson, Gentry culminating w/ an Easter dinner at our place. Our guests were starved--gobbling up a turkey, a ham, two roasts, ten pound of scalloped potatoes and bacon, huge salads and a bevy of desserts. This is actually quite easy for Liz and me. We usually provide the meats (and this time prepared the scalloped potatoes) and just ask the guests to bring something. It always works out great.

One of our guests, Rick Murphy (you might remember him from my "going to jail" blog entry), shared after dinner and before dessert the power of the resurrection in one of the prisoners he ministers to as part of his job as a jail chaplain. "Jonathan" was arrested for murder, placed in jail during his trial, came to faith in Christ last summer and to his attorney's dismay, "told the whole truth" about what he had done. "As a Christian I must look myself in the mirror every day for the rest of my life and I've just got to tell the truth, even if I must spend the rest of my life in prison." His state-appointed attorneys wept. One said, "How I envy you. You are free to tell the truth." Jonathan did get life without paroll but told Rick how excited he was to be God's ambassador in prison--"...and all my support is raised."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Skiing

Bob Dozier--Tax Man

I got my taxes done yesterday...in less than an hour from my long-time tax man, Bob Dozier. I love meeting with Bob because he is so passionate about his work. He LOVES tax season. He licks his accounting chops at every correct document I pull out and then he enters it into the computer. I love recommending Bob to my friends. My willingness to refer Bob to my friends made me think, "What makes Bob so 'recommendable?'"

1) Bob is passionate about his work. He is doing what God designed him to do.
2) He's enjoyable to be with. He has a contagious smile and though not spared from the hurt and tragedies of life, he remains upbeat and enthusiastic.
3) He is completely competent. He is an expert in his craft.
4) He is current--he keeps up with every change in the tax law.
5) He operates with integrity.
6) He charges a fair price and saves me money….yep, we’re getting a refund.
Would that all of us be so referable to others, huh? Thanks Bob for making your job look like so much fun!

Australia with my brother

Australia is a great place but for us the best part was hanging out with my brother and his family who live in Brisbane. Bruce and part of the fam met us coming off the plane at the Brisbane airport. After having a "cuppa" and icecream cone at McDonalds, we went to stay w/neice Brenda and her husband Christian for three nights before heading up to the Sunshine Coast. They have a wonderful 2 1/2 year old who is just adorable (one day older than our grandson Gentry). It was so good to be with them. Two years ago December they very sadly lost their two year old son Tommy. We went to the children's cemetery where Tommy is buried. This was the first time Liz and I had been back to Australia since his death. Brenda and Chistian showered us with hospitality and Christian probably fixes the best "flat white" coffee in Australia and Brenda delighted us with the speshes she whipped up.
Liz and I then drove up to my brother's place where we had lunch (mmmmmmmm....mango and chicken salad on the patio) before driving to Caloundra Beach at the Sunshine Coast. Bruce and Lynn Maree had rented a three bedroom condo for a few nights and with thier son sam, my neice Lyn and her husband Simon and their two darling girls (Georgie and Rosie), we had a ball. I am fortunate to say that my brother and his family are absolutely a delight to be with. They showered us with hospitality and good Aussie tucker (snags, chooks, chops, fish and chips etc). It was hard to say goodbye but there has been a good flow of family going in both directions so we hope its not too long before we get to repeat the above.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eoghn Tivoli on Fish Heads

Eoghn lived with our family in Colorado for his senior year of High School, graduating in May of 1999. Eoghn is Fijian by background but has lived in many parts of the world, including Japan and New Zealand. We look back with fondness on that year when he, and my boys, Andy and Jeff were all wrestling and training at Centaurus H.S. One of the foods Eoghn talked about was the absolute delight of fish heads. Here is what I captured a few days ago when we met up with Eoghn at Cronulla Beach.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Australia with Eoghn

Sunday morning I met Liz in Sydney, arriving from SFO about the same time Sunday morning I arrived from Auckland. Sam Liz and I drove to the city center to see the Opera House and the

Harbor Bridge. Liz and I arranged to meet Eoghn at Cronulla Beach (http://www.cronullabeachyha.com/cronulla-tourist-information/). Eoghn lived with us his senior year of high school back in 1998-1999. He was a great kid and has now grown into a wonderful father and husband. After renting a car we had wanted to meet them at a place that had shady trees, access to restaurants and a place to take a dip. Wouldn’t you know they could fill the bill so easily! Sydney is a beautiful city. That night we went to eat at an all-you-can-eat place w/ ham, lamb, a giant roast beef, fish, Chinese food, all the fixing. The next day after coffee and a full Aussie breakfast (minus the baked beans) we took off for the Blue Mountains and took a “bushwalk” to see the “Three Sisters” up close and then stopped at the cafe at which Eoghn's sister was working (see picture). By the time we got back to Eoghn’s place it was time to get our laundry off the line and head to the airport to fly to Brisbane.

Friday, March 07, 2008

New Zealand Inflation

New Zealand has been great but the dollar has really taken a beating against the NZ dollar. You just get a lot less for a dollar. Check out the size of these "Jumbo Meat Pies" and the prices of cold cuts in the supermarket! Surprising though, the coffee cups (now called "bowls of coffee") have grown!
Most everything in NZ is 4/5 size...sort of like being at Disneyland. The trip has gone well so far. On Saturday Sam and I will be doing an all day Externally Focused seminar in Aukland. We're looking forward to what the day holds.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Externally Focused Leadership Community 6.1 Day 3

The final morning of leadership communities are devoted to finishing up their 5 year strategic plans, their six-month Action Learning Plans and their 4-quadrant visual depiction of their 5 year vision, their biggest "aha" from the gathering, along with 2 big goals they want to have completed by the time we meet in September.

Today, I'm off to New Zealand with Sam Williams for a country-wide conference sponsored by Vision Network of New Zealand for 3 days along with meeting w/ pastors in Palmerston North and then a one-day conference in Auckland. God is doing some great things around the world to place his church back into the community. I'm glad we have the opportunity to be part of it!